11 Mar

I pull in the parking space at the grocery store and start fishing around for my necessities: list, keys, cell phone, gum…

“Are you going to walk or ride in the cart?” I ask Mister, peeking back in the rear view mirror.

“I’m going to walk,” he tells me. “The rules are…”

I stop rummaging around and turn around to look at him.

“You’re right,” I tell him. “We have to go over the rules. What are the rules in the store?”

“Hold on to the cart.”

“Or…” I prompt.

“Or a hand. And don’t touch anything.”

“That’s right. Unless Mum asks you to.”

That part finished, Mister starts struggling to get out of his car seat. He’s ready. I get my things together and get going.

This little blurb from this morning may make me seem like a structure nut. A super controlling behavior obsessed mom. A dictator. I’m not. Or at least I think I’m not. I’ve just learned, with my share of the hard way, that Mister does better when we talk about the rules before we do something new. Even if that something is only new because we haven’t done it since last week. Or yesterday. Or five minutes ago.

That got me thinking. Is my writing better when I follow the rules? Knowing that they are probably different for everyone, just like Mister’s rules in the grocery store, what are my rules for writing?

What are the guidelines you write by? Please share your “rules” for storytelling in the comments below.

And if you’re having trouble figuring out what your rules are, check out these other resources on the rules for storytelling:

Pixar’s rules of storytelling:

Neil Gaiman’s eight rules of writing:


Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Process


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2 responses to “Rules

  1. Mary

    March 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    You won’t truly feel like a super controlling behavior obsessed “mom” (in my case) until you try to write down all the rules. We are having someone new watch the dogs, so I sent her the girls’ schedule, feeding instructions, suggested activities and emergency contact information. Despite the fact that my pets are fairly mild mannered, my “rules” ran to 4 pages (and that was without instructions for brushing the cat’s teeth — I figured I’m not paying this woman enough to perform that particular task). YIKES! I’m a nut…

    My writing rules for this project were pretty standard: note deadline (date of trip); write up rules; hand them off to DH for proofreading/revision; walk through them (literally) for a few days and make note of things I had missed; revise rules; send draft to caregiver; meet with caregiver so she can warm up to both the rules and the pets; hope for the best.

    • cocoanqueso

      March 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

      The first couple of times my mom watched Mister, I wrote down EVERYTHING: the words to lullabies, feeding and nap times down to the minute, which way he faces when he sleeps…everything! I thought I was helping, but my mom really needed to figure out the rules between her and Mister. Kind of like everyone needing their own writing rules. Thanks for the comment and I hope the trip goes well!


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